Grain markets calm as traders await Thursday's USDA reports

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Corn futures rallied Wednesday morning in apparent response to indications that low temperatures had frosted early-planted corn in the Southeast Tuesday night. That may largely negate the early-planting advantage those states hoped to enjoy. Still, futures may not move much ahead of the Thursday morning release of the USDA Prospective Plantings and Grain Stocks reports. May corn had risen 3.25 cents to $7.335/bushel by late Wednesday morning, while December inched upward 0.5 cent to $5.715.

The CBOT soybean market was reportedly depressed by talk that surging South American supplies were blunting demand for U.S. beans Wednesday morning. Wire service reports also cited reduced basis levels this morning, which may also be weighing upon prices. Recent palm oil firmness is probably supporting the oil market. The looming USDA reports are probably limiting price shifts. May soybeans were unchanged at $14.475/bushel just before lunchtime Wednesday, while May soyoil dipped 0.03 cents to 50.79 cents/pound, while May meal slipped $0.2 to $420.0/ton.

Talk of frost damage to west Texas wheat fields may still be supporting wheat futures Wednesday morning. We also wonder if the latest Doane tweets showing wheat conditions in Nebraska and Eastern Colorado are supporting the market. The latest gains may also have a substantial technical component, since May CBOT wheat futures have pushed above their 40-day moving average (MA). May CBOT wheat futures rallied 7.75 cents to $7.3925/bushel in late Wednesday morning trading, while May KCBT wheat surged 6.0 cents to $7.745, and May MGE futures gained 3.5 cents to $8.14.

Cattle futures rallied Wednesday morning in response to belated news that a few head had traded fully steady at 125 cents/pound in the Panhandle Tuesday evening. That probably signals steady-firm cash prices later in the week. Bulls obviously hope for a burst of seasonal strength over the next few weeks. April cattle climbed 0.70 cents to 126.65 cents/pound in late Wednesday-morning trading, while August gained 0.70 cents to 123.32. Meanwhile, April feeder cattle futures jumped 0.62 cents to 139.22 cents/pound, and August advanced 0.22 cents to 148.02.

Although industry sources indicated cash prices had risen again Wednesday morning, CME lean hog futures fell rather sharply. The drop very likely resulted from pre-report analyst surveys ahead of the quarterly USDA Hogs & Pigs report due out Thursday afternoon (at 2:00 PM CDT). Those data imply the industry has continued expanding despite poor margins and greatly elevated feed costs. April hogs fell 0.52 cents to 78.97 cents/pound around midsession Wednesday, while June dove 1.22 cents to 89.85.

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